Trader Walt’s Flea at El Museo, Santa Fe’s winter indoor traditional flea market, has spirit and style harkening back to the internationally famous Trader Jack’s. Until Jack Daniels left his Flea north of town in in 2001, it was a year-round “must do” for locals and visitors alike. Today’s “Flea,” indoors at El Museo Cultural on the Rail Yard in the Winter, and outdoors only in the summer, (south of Santa Fe on the old thoroughbred race track) is as close to Jack’s market as we can make it a decade later.
It’s the sort of place where 50 to 100 day traders jam their booths with tools, exotic rocks, cookware, rugs, toys, classic LP’s, silver rodeo buckles, boots, beads and bangles, slightly chipped Waterford crystal, and the occasional priceless yard sale treasure only you will recognize.
At El Museo, just across from the Rail Yard, you might run into fashion giant Tom Ford; Native American painter Tony Abeyta; the art director for Johnnie Depp’s The Lone Ranger, or the set designer for A&E’s new hit western series Longmire. And, if you have a keen eye for beauty, you might even find yourself right beside Susan Austin, the Madam of the Mustang Ranch, who makes special trips from Reno, bargain hunting for furnishings and finery.
“The Flea” is also the sort of place where, conversing with a vendor, you discover you’re chatting with author, decorator and style editor Mary Emmerling; 7th Avenue dress designer Ann Lawrence; Mountain Man-Historian Jeff Hengesbaugh; former art director for CBS Records and now national licensing designer, Hillary Vermont; saddle maker Clint Mortenson; Canyon Road Gallerista Marc Navarro, or world class “scouts” in the tradition of Larry McMurty’s “Cadillac Jack,” like Bill Hawn, Lloyd Nelson, Michael Eros, Lynn Canterbury or Claire and John Martinez.
“The Flea” is not just in the spirit, style and society of the old market. . . many of Trader Jack’s vendors have joined the Downs, or come out of retirement since Trader Walt’s market opened.
Jewelry designer Roberta Marks joined The Flea in 2012, bringing her famous sign “I DO GAUDY BEST, IF YOU CAN'T SEE IT FROM THE HIGHWAY WHY WEAR IT?” as have costumer par-excellence Julie Anderson; bead expert Giesela Happe; and Hornbek’s Redshell Jewelry.
Veterans of Jack’s market with us since the beginning include purveyor of all manner of gadgets, Bert Waldo, silver specialist Kay Cauley, woodworker Norma Plemons, antiques dealer Barbara Simpson, and Steve Kalminson’s Maya Jones Imports
There’s a new generation of Stromberg’s, Sonia Gaye and Jim, crafting custom porch rockers, while Pam Dietrich sews high fashion leather attire in her booth and jewelry designers Jules Barth and Tom Dewitt, both featured by Ralph Lauren, offer work with a western flair. Painter Raya and jeweler Estee Roll are at El Museo as is photographer Dana Waldon with her new line of original purses, The Scout Collection.
The Flea is remains home to Ignacio and Caroline Villarreal’s famous SoHo gallery, Craft Caravan, as well as the interior designs of Hamilton Montgomery and fountains of Leith Johnson and John Martinez. Contemporary Native American Artist Rita Iringan, takes a “flea” break from her arts career, including Santa Fe Indian Market, to sell “great stuff” just across the aisle from “true flea trader,” the impeccably reserved Ronnie Ashcroft. As you can see, it’s not just any Flea.
Saturday: 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Sunday: 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Black Friday: 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Price: $$$ - High End
Alcohol: Beer & Wine
Good For: Lunch & Dinner
Takes Reservations: Yes